Coalition for a GM-Free India’s letter to Ms Jayanti Natarajan:
6th November 2012
Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan,
Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests
Government of India.
Sub: MoEF should accept the Technical Expert Committee’s interim report on GMO field trials and safety assessment
As you are well aware, that the Supreme Court has a crucial hearing on November 9th 2012 in the PIL pertaining to GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) (Aruna Rodrigues vs Union of India -Writ Petition (Civil) No. 260 of 2005). The present hearing is on the Interim Report of the Technical Expert Committee on Field Trials appointed by the Supeme Court. This Committee with scientists of impeccable credentials, with no vested interest in the matter, was agreed upon by both the parties to the case, and hence its appointment by the Supreme Court.
We understand that after careful consideration of the various issues involved, the Committee has come up with recommendations that have a good bearing on proper and credible regulation of transgenic technology, with foolproof and effective biosafety protocols, especially at various stages of research. It is also important to note that many of the important recommendations of this Committee are in fact a reiteration of recommendations from other such processes and inquiries including the Report of the Task Force on Application of Biotechnology in Agriculture(2003), the MoEF Decision document on the Bt brinjal public debate (2010) and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture’s report on the subject (2012). The TEC’s recommendations on policy directives governing particular transgenic traits and crops are sound and scientific, keeping in mind safety and requirement, in a precautionary approach, which had informed the Bt brinjal decision-making also.
We believe that the MoEF is also committed to ensuring biosafety and would like to shape the regulatory regime into an independent, scientifically rigorous, credible regime. In that context, these recommendations including the time frame for setting up these protocols and technical capabilities for ensuring biosafety should be welcome. In view of the fact that the Committee is still to come up with its full report, we urge the MoEF not to contend the findings of this report and allow it to complete its mandate. We also strongly request that the MoEF should not stand in the way of the implementation of the recommendations of a Committee that was mutually agreed upon. We wish to remind you that earlier, the Parliamentary Standing Committee had also made similar recommendations, and we are expecting the MoEF to accept these and stop field trials in India, and start the process of instituting a proper, credible, effective biosafety protocol for GM crop research, where research itself should not jeopardize biosafety or pose irreversible risks.
We also believe that India as the presiding nation of the Convention on Biological Diversity has a special responsibility towards bio-safety and protecting our seed biodiversity, and as the President, we hope that you will provide the leadership to member nations in terms of putting in place an improved and thorough regulatory system which is independent, democratic and based on science and precautionary principle.
Sridhar Radhakrishnan (ph : 09995358205, email : email@example.com)
Coalition for a GM-Free India
OD-3, Jawahar Nagar, Kawdiar,
Thiruvananthapuram – 695003,